Chandler City Hall, November 2011. Photo by Nathan Kryn
Full view of Chandler City Hall, Copyright CTSINC.
The facility opened on October 25, 2010 and is the result of a 73 million dollar project. The completed City Hall is part of the Arizona Avenue Streetscape Project, which aimed to improve the pedestrian experience and breathe new life into Historic Downtown Chandler businesses. The building has won 17 awards total, including one from the American Minority Contractors Association for providing opportunities for small minority-owned contractors. (http://www.Chandleraz.gov, 2011)Without a doubt, the new Chandler City Hall has revived a sector of businesses and improved the aesthetic value of Downtown Chandler. The location is in the heart of a heavily Hispanic area. In the 85225 zip code, nearly 35% of the population is Hispanic or Latino (factfinder.census.gov, 2011). Given this, it seems as if much of the benefit of a new capital building was distributed to Hispanic populations. However, it seems as if the project might have unintentionally favored traditionally white businesses.
Despite the high critical acclaim, the new building might be seen in a more prejudicial light. Drive down Arizona slightly farther and one sees a different portrait of Downtown Chandler. One sees a plethora of small businesses, many looking rundown, including tire and rim shops, day laborer centers, and closed down bars. Day labor workers stand on nearly every corner waiting to be picked up by contractors for day jobs. It seems as if the investment in Downtown Chandler favored traditionally white businesses while the historically Hispanic downtown businesses and neighborhood remained stagnant. More than a year after the opening of the new capital, this area has still not seen the same investment in walking space, nor the economic gains as historic downtown chandler. Meanwhile, Tumbleweed Park in the heart of the historic district hosts a slew of events that brings business to wine bars, fine dining, and boutique shops.
While much of the success in the historic district has been due to wise decisions by conscious small business owners, much of the success could be attributed to white privilege. Lucal argues that a relational view of race demands that we look at not only the disadvantages of one group, but also the advantages of another (Lucal, 1996). In Chandler, owners of “white” businesses in the historic district have benefited greatly from the attention and events hosted in the district. Meanwhile, traditionally Hispanic and Latino businesses just down the road have not shared the same benefit.
- Nathan Kryn
Chandleraz.gov. November 2011. “Chandler City Hall Complex.”
Lucal, Betsy. Teaching Sociology. “Oppression and White Privilege: Toward a Relational Conception of Race.” Vol. 24, No. 3 (Jul., 1996), pp. 245-255. American Sociological Association,
U.S. Census Bureau. 2011.